Smoking has long been a problem for many Americans, but anti-smoking cigarettes campaigns have made serious progress throughout the country. More than 365 colleges nationwide have joined this trend by banning smoking cigarettes both indoors and out. Harvard has tentatively followed by prohibiting smoking cigarettes in all areas of upper-class Houses and freshman dormitories and within 25 feet of any university buildings.
On any given night, however, one readily sees these regulations disregarded by smokers huddled in circles in the Yard. These scenes support the idea that smoking cigarettes is typically a social practice, but given Harvard's highly competitive and highly stressful environment, one must wonder if students are driven to smoking cigarettes for more troubling reasons. The Harvard community must understand why students decide to start smoking cigarettes. In seeking answers, anti-smoking cigarettes groups need to focus on eliminating the causes, not lashing out at smokers.
Last spring, the cheap cigarettes Control Policy Group, a subgroup of the Institute of Politics, conducted a survey to understand smoking cigarettes habits among Harvard College students. Out of the 462 students who responded, 10 percent admitted to currently being smokers. These results were lower than the national average derived from the National College Health Assessment during the spring of 2010, which found that 16 percent of those college students who responded had smoked discount cigarettes in the last 30 days from the time they were surveyed.
While Harvard celebrates a lower smoking cigarettes average, the IOP's survey results hinted at other trends that are perhaps more troubling, if not entirely surprising. About 64 percent of the respondents indicated that they have friends who currently smoke cigarettes and about 53 percent of students have family members who smoke cigarettes or have smoked. People are more likely to smoke cigarettes if they are surrounded by friends or acquaintances who smoke.
The Group's survey also found that the majority of Harvard smokers began smoking cigarettes when they were 17 or 18, right around the age when most reached college. This indicates that Harvard's social pressures and stressful environment may be enough to drive many students to smoking cigarettes, especially if many regard it as a socially acceptable outlet for stress.
To properly address smoking cigarettes issues on campus, and to support those students who need it, Harvard needs to focus on publicizing already-existing smoking cigarettes cessation resources and look into establishing prevention programs. Alcohol and sexual health resources are widely available and advertised throughout campus, and there is no reason why cheap smokes support should not receive the same attention.
Furthermore, incoming freshman receive a lot of information regarding alcohol and sexual resources during their first week on campus. Freshmen should be aware of healthier ways to deal with stress before they turn to smoking cigarettes. Likewise, freshmen who already smoke cigarettes would benefit from knowing of the preexisting smoking cigarettes cessation resources available to them should they choose to quit.
To be sure, the majority of smokers are likely aware of the risks and dangers associated with smoking cigarettes. About 66 percent of surveyed students indicated they have taken a class or program on the dangers of smoking cigarettes, such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education. These students are within their rights to continue to smoke cigarettes at Harvard, where appropriate. The stigma surrounding smoking cigarettes needs to be reduced so that smokers who want to quit feel more comfortable and less judged when they come forward.
A smoking cigarettes-wide ban, though ideal for some, would also do little to help Harvard smokers. The emphasis should be on supporting existing smokers and creating ways to prevent those at risk from taking up the habit in the first place. As the cheap cigarettes Control Policy Group's survey indicated, many Harvard students are acquainted with smokers and it is easy to consider smoking cigarettes a stress-reliever when surrounded by other smokers.
The cheap cigarettes Control Policy Group's survey may have revealed that the majority of Harvard students do not smoke, but this does not indicate that smoking cigarettes is not a serious campus issue. Harvard's social pressures and stressful environment likely perpetuate smoking cigarettes habits. Focusing on prevention and proactive solutions to helping smokers kick the habit is sure to be a challenge, but it is a more viable solution than simply outlawing smoking cigarettes or ostracizing smokers. cheap cigarettes is the enemy, not smokers, and Harvard's regulations should reflect that.
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